Magnesium is one of the top mineral deficiencies in the world. Despite being an essential mineral, it’s estimated that one-third of the population has a deficiency.
There are many foods that contain magnesium, but due to depleted soil nutrition and poor absorption, magnesium levels could still be low.
As a result, more and more people are opting to supplement their magnesium intake—which is great news, because magnesium is responsible for over 300 different biochemical reactions in the body! It’s essential for bone development and maintenance, muscle and nerve function, cardiovascular health and much more.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium increases with age, but most adults should shoot for 400 mg.
But there’s one slight issue. There are many, many types of magnesium, and the body absorbs each differently. So which one should you be taking?
Let’s dive into the most common magnesium supplements available and what differentiates them from each other.
Magnesium Types Compared
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Magnesium Oxide and Hydroxide
Magnesium oxide is a mineral compound commonly found in the earth’s crust. It has very low bioavailability and is considered the least optimal form of magnesium to supplement.
Magnesium oxide is often used in milk of magnesia products since it has a strong laxative effect. That in itself is a red flag for those looking to increase magnesium levels; as a general rule, loose stools from magnesium supplementation are a sign that your body isn’t fully absorbing the magnesium or that you’re taking too much.
Unfortunately, this type of magnesium is commonly used in supplements due to its low cost.
A magnesium acid complex that is widely available, versatile and has solid bioavailability, magnesium citrate is a popular option. This magnesium supplement comes widely recommended by doctors and health professionals.
This is likely the most popular mineral magnesium. Magnesium chloride is commonly found in sea water. It’s believed to have the highest bioavailability of mineral magnesiums and can be supplemented as a capsule or a liquid.
Magnesium oils are quickly gaining popularity as a way to easily and safely supplement magnesium. Quality magnesium oils are made with magnesium chloride and water, creating a super-saturated brine. This non-greasy mineral brine soaks easily into skin without leaving an unpleasant residue.
It’s typically sold in a spray bottle, so users of magnesium oil simply spritz it on after a bath or shower. Bonus: magnesium oil also helps nourish and moisturize the skin. Win-win!
You’ve probably heard of this type of magnesium before, but by a different name. Ever heard of epsom salts? That’s magnesium sulfate!
Unless you enjoy swallowing supplements, this is one of the most pleasant ways to supplement magnesium; simply dissolve a cup or two of epsom salts in a warm bath and soak. Unfortunately, bioavailability is pretty low. That just means more bath time, right?
Magnesium sulfate also provides sulfur, which can help soothe tired muscles. That makes epsom salts popular among athletes!
Amino Acid Magnesium Chelates
If you’ve ever wondered what “chelated” supplements are, the explanation is actually quite simple: minerals that are bound to amino acid proteins.
So, chelated magnesium supplements are lab-created substances created by bonding magnesium to an amino acid containing nitrogen. Because the magnesium is bound to different amino acid, chelated magnesium supplements have varying benefits than standard magnesium supplements.
Magnesium amino acid chelates can include:
●Magnesium Glycinate - Optimum bioavailability
●Magnesium Lysinate - Good bioavailability
●Magnesium Orotate - Heart health support
●Magnesium Taurate - Heart health support and promotes calmness
●Magnesium Aspartate - Helps fight fatigue and promote cellular energy
●Magnesium L-Threonate - Promotes mental sharpness and cognitive health
●Magnesium Malate - Supports ATP production and cellular energy
Chelated magnesium supplements tend to be a bit more expensive because of the complex processes required to make them.
The good news? The human body is very good at absorbing amino acids! Amino acid chelates generally have high bioavailability because they rely on protein pathways instead of water solubility.
There are other forms of magnesium out there (like magnesium bicarbonate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium phosphate…) but they aren’t nearly as popular as the forms mentioned above.
To summarize, most magnesium supplements differ in their bioavailability and ways to take them. Some supplements, like the magnesium chelates, have other benefits due to the amino acids they are bound to.
If you’ve been confused about which magnesium supplement is right for you, hopefully this post serves as a good resource! Which magnesium supplement did you choose?